September 12, 2012

By Jonathan Seib Journal-Advocate sports reporter

STERLING -- The Northeastern Junior College Plainswomen played their home opener Tuesday night in the Bank of Colorado Events Center at the NJC campus.

The Plainswomen struggled with errors at times, but a solid attack and some impassioned back row play led to a victory in four sets over the North Platte Lady Knights from Nebraska. The Plainswomen won with scores of 25-20, 25-18, 23-25, and 25-16.

The Plainswomen can blame their one loss in the third set on errors as the Plainswomen gave up 11 free points in the contest, including the final point on a four-hit violation.

The Plainswomen also had nine service errors over the course of the contest.

But the Plainswomen also had a strong attack and Brazilian Mayara Prestes led that attack with 14 kills. Nikki Schmidt had 11 kills on the contest; Mackenzie Krause, 10; Jenna Vandenbark, six; and Gabriela Jandotti, seven.

The attack was especially strong in the final set, where Schmidt picked up six of her kills. Vandenbark added two, Krause, four, and Prestes, three.

Mandi Velasquez finished with 21 assists on the night and Kati Kuntz had 18. It was an impressive performance by both setters as late in the game the Lady Knights tried to attack the setters, forcing other players to step up and set.

Jandotti led the team with six stuff blocks with Vandenbark picking up two and Schmidt, one. Prestes had three aces; Kuntz had one as did Velasquez.

Also of note, it was a homecoming of sorts for new Plainswoman head coach Jessica Tjaden, who had her first Plainswomen home game since playing there several years ago.

The Plainswomen are now 9-6 overall and are ranked 19th in the national polls (as of Sept. 12).

The Plainswomen will host the College of Southern Idaho (CSI), No. 5 in the country, on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Bank of Colorado Events Center, before hosting the Pizza Hut Invitational on Friday and Saturday where they will take on Iowa Western, Trinidada State, Salt Lake Community, and CSI once again.